‘Majority’ of council will approve Green Line: Nenshi
Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he anticipates an “overwhelming majority” of city council will approve the Green Line on Tuesday, as more councillors announced support for the city’s plan.
City officials released revised recommendations Monday for the first stage of the LRT expansion, running from 16th Avenue N. to Shepard in the southeast.
“I think that what will be before us is administration’s battle-tested, difficult recommendation with just a little bit of clarity and nuance to it,” Nenshi said.
Council has appeared divided on the Green Line in recent days, notably about whether to go ahead with plans to build a new bridge for the LRT over the Bow River. But the mayor said those issues have been resolved.
Council began a two-day meeting Monday, and they’re set to discuss the Green Line on Tuesday.
Some changes have been made to what council’s Green Line committee considered earlier this month.
Now, city councillors will consider breaking the transit expansion into three segments: the southeast leg roughly from the Elbow River to Shepard, the tunnel beneath the Beltline and downtown, and the bridge over the Bow River and surface train up to 16th Avenue N.
If approved, the plan would see the city start the process of hiring a company to build the section of the Green Line that crosses the river and moves through Crescent Heights.
But they would hold off on signing the contract until construction of the downtown section “has sufficiently advanced” to show that the project is staying within its $4.9-billion capital budget.
The recommendations involve a reconsideration, meaning at least 10 of Calgary’s 15 council members must vote in favour. Nenshi said that should be no issue for the final approval.
Coun. Jeff Davison has in recent weeks questioned plans to build the portion of the project over the Bow River, saying he’d rather see “one good line” built from Shepard to Eau Claire while the city takes more time to look at the river crossing.
But on Tuesday, he wrote on Twitter that he thinks the city’s new plans are “a big improvement.”
The new recommendation also comes with a shift to “an emphasis on north central Calgary” in planning the next phase of the Green Line, including accommodation for bus rapid transit and transit-on-demand that can be converted to LRT when more government funding is available.
Eventually, the full Green Line is planned to run for 46 km, from 160th Avenue N. to Seton in the southeast.
Coun. Jyoti Gondek, who previously joined Davison in questioning the Green Line’s path, said the guarantee for the north sealed her support.
“Knowing that we have to have a river crossing and it can’t be the Centre Street Bridge, we have a recommendation before us that makes sense,” she said.
GREEN LINE POLLS
The final steps toward a Green Line vote come as an advocacy group released a poll Monday showing about two-thirds of respondents support the transit project based on anticipated job creation.
Calgarians for Transit commissioned research and communications firm Converso to conduct the telephone poll on June 11. The poll, which Converso says contained a random mix of land lines and cellphones, got 1,617 responses. It has a +/-3 per cent margin of error, 19 times out of 20.
When respondents were told the city expects the LRT line’s construction to create 20,000 jobs, about 68 per cent of people said they support the project.
When people polled were told the Green Line is getting $3 billion of funding from the provincial and federal governments, about 71 per cent of people said they support moving forward.
Ctrain Green Line supporters rallied outside city hall early this month. Council is expected to discuss the line Tuesday.